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The Broken Nest
I knew the world was ending. I saw the bomb free-fall towards the city and flew in the opposite direction. My wings were moving fast, my heart was pumping. Thunder filled the sky and I felt a colossal gust of wind attack my back as I careened forward uncontrollably. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the tree I was sure to slam into. I felt myself whizzing through the air, like a shot fired from a rifle. And then the wind died away, and everything was silent. I opened my eyes wondering if this was the afterlife, but I was still on Earth. I lay in an awkward position, cold terror washed over me with the fear that I had become paralyzed. I moved one wing, then the other, relief flooded my body and gave me warmth. Without hesitation I took to the sky, my curiosity soon taking over, guiding me toward the wreckage.
When I got there, what I was looking at couldn’t be called a “city”. What once had been noble skyscrapers were now piles of shattered glass. I heard the cries of sorrow from those who had survived, moans of excruciating pain from those who were dying, and stillness from those who had already departed. I made my way to Amsterdam Avenue and perched upon one of the heaps of ruble that I had known as pavement only minutes ago. I approached a crow whom was standing on an overturned car.
“What do you think happens next?” I asked him. I was curious of what he thought would become of this.
“I can’t be certain, but I do believe there’s going to be quite a few funerals. Good thing I have black feathers.”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a glorious sight, a hot dog bun. I hopped over to my delight and started to nibble at it. This may not be as bad as I had first thought. Soon others had discovered my treat and I left before things got ugly (aside from all the cadavers). There was a large group of blue jays hovering above, that meant gossip.
“What are you ladies talking about?” I was curious. The one to my right looked exceptionally giddy, oh yes definitely gossip.
”Which town do you think they’ll bomb next? My seeds are on Chicago”
“My heavens” said the bird to my right. “Do you really think this will happen again?”
“Calm down ladies, I’m sure everything is going to be fine” I tried my best to reassure them, because no matter how many birds are in your hand instead of the bushes, if they’re all freaking out over an impending doom it doesn’t matter. Knowing that nothing good can come from gossip, I left. Something hit me then. Maybe she was right, what if this isn’t over? What if they really do hit Chicago next, then what? Will they go on to Los Angeles, or Seattle? What was about to happen?
A picture of my mother filled my mind. Was Christmas the last time I would eat her warm, buttery, seed streusel muffins? Dad would probably say I’m being a chicken. I wonder how Sarah’s dealing with this whole thing. The last time I saw her, she was volunteering at the red tree medical center for college credits. Was I ever going to see my family again? SNAP OUT OF IT JACK!, I couldn’t let myself think that way. What I needed was to take a nice, long flight to calm the nerves. Next on the agenda: road trip. Maybe I’ll go somewhere far away, or stay relatively close. Right now it didn’t really matter where I was going, just that I was going.
“Hi there, where are you headed?” to my right soared a magpie. I try not to look down on other breeds because my mother would be disapproving, but magpie’s have the whole cradle-robber reputation.
“Hello” I said as coolly as possible, hoping that she’ll get the hint.
“So where are you headed?” she asked...I guess she didn’t get the message, so I gave up.
“I don’t really know yet, I’m just trying to get away from...well you know”
“Yeah, I’m flying to the south myself”
“Well good luck with that.” I told her. I folded my wings and did a nose dive. I could feel the wind rushing against my face, the earth getting closer, and closer, my problems and worries melted. Just as my beak was about to scrape the dirt I uncurled my wingspan and glided.
“Hey Jack!” I swiveled my head to the left and saw my friend William. William, is a cardinal, and the only red head I’ve ever known. He was above me so I shot back up towards the sky.
“Will, my man! What’s up?” I was curious, the last time I saw Will he was building a very nice postmodern nest in Boston.
“Not much, I met this really nice chick, she’s a canary. I’d say we’re pretty serious”
“Wow I’m impressed, are you sure you’re in her league?” I joked
“Ha, ha, ha. Very funny.” The thing I love about Will is that he can take a joke.
“So where are you headed?” How do you answer a question when you have no answer?
“I don’t know, got any suggestions?” I waited for his answer.
“Florida, good ol’ Florida. My cousin migrated there last winter, he told me that there’s a bunch of old people and they love giving bread to us aves. It’s very cushy”
“Great! Thanks, where are you going?”
“Oh I heard there’s a new sunflower patch that grew in California, all the seeds you can get man!” I smiled, Will always had a sweet tooth.
“Well good luck”
“You too” And with that I dropped lower so I could think. I’d heard about Florida, although the thought of not living in New York freaked me out. I’m so used to my nest on top of the Dakota building. And my view of Central Park which is fantastic. I’m so used to everyday seeing hundreds of people around John Lennon's Imagine memorial. But thanks to the bomb, it’s not there anymore, and neither is my home. S***! Why did this have to happen? Now all of my stuff is gone, not to mention the time I spent completing my nest has now been wasted. I needed to fly faster to blow off this steam.
After two hours of speed flying, my stomach started grumbling. I dipped down to find out where I was. A sign two yards in front of me read: WELCOME TO VIRGINIA. Wow, I was in Virginia already? But you know the saying, “time flies when you’re flying”. I landed on the sidewalk and hoped around looking for something to eat. There was a pizza parlor half a block away, how lucky was I? After pecking some crust at Valentina’s Pizza, I stood near a hydrant. I know you’re supposed to wait an hour after you eat before you fly but weren’t rules made to be broken?
From up above, I watched as the regular trees below me started to turn into palm trees, and that’s when I saw the beach. It was huge! I mean the Long island beach is nice and all but, this takes the worms. Down here everyone looks brown. This didn’t look like the place where I would get free bread, so I decided to move on. A fellow sparrow flew above.
“Hey brethren” I said as I flew up to join him.
“Hi there” His voice was deep and friendly, it felt like I’ve known him all my life.
“Can you help me with something?” I asked, knowing what the answer would be.
“Of course, we’re practically family, get it?” he laughed. He had the best kind of laugh, you know the one where your body moves, but no sound comes out of your mouth?
”Nice bird humor, do you know a nice place for an aves to settle down here?”
“Well it wouldn’t be here in Miami. You want Jacksonville, its about two miles from here.”
“No problem” He was as friendly as his voice sounded.
When I got to Jacksonville I found a very nice park, so nice in fact, that I just slept on the ground and didn’t even need to make a nest. That night, as the warm breeze blew me into slumber, I had a nightmare about big falling bombs and loud shrieking blue jays. I opened my eyes and yawned. I felt well rested, no, more than that, I felt recharged. I flew around a little to get my lay of the land. I was about to stop for breakfast when I was approached by a parakeet.
“Hi, I’m kinda lost. Do you know how to get to Owl City? I hear it has big skyscrapers made of twigs and leaves, and......and......and.......” I had to smile inside. Believing in Owl City is like little humans believing in a fat man dressed in red bringing them presents every year when they truly don’t deserve them. Still it was hard to tell him this.
“Sorry kid, but I know for a fact that Owl City is the name of a singer, not a city filled with owls.”
“Really?” he sounded upset.
“That name is so misleading!” I watched as he flew away dejected and I felt bad for the little guy.
After that conversation I asked myself: what should I do today? The answer: fly along the water. The beach was nice, but very crowded. Once you left the populated areas though, it was peaceful and serene...until you found the flamingos. I know they get their coloring from all the shrimp, but who did they inherit their gift for gab from?
“Hey stranger! What brings you here?” I turned around to find a group of them staring at me.
“I had to get out of New York, you know?” They cocked their heads at that, indicating that they, in fact did not know. .
“New York City was bombed yesterday, so I came here” I re-explained. At that, every single flamingo stopped chatting and swiveled their head towards me. After 4 minutes of complete and creepy silence, I was asked more questions then I had ever heard in my life. Questions like:
“Oh my god, are you all right?”
“Was it scary?”
“Did anyone survive?”
“Does this mean I can no longer poop on the Statue of Liberty?” etc, etc.
Jeez how does anything get done with them talking over each other like this? Overwhelmed with all the questions, I decided to take off, and go back to the park where I had spent the night. resting against a tree I felt at peace. This was the life! Shade, breeze, and not a flamingo in sight. I was resting against the tree when I saw the most beautiful creature I had ever laid eyes on. She was a white dove sitting alone in a stone birdbath. After two minutes of gawking, and three minutes of self pep talk, I decided to go over and introduce myself. As I got closer, I could see that her feathers were more ivory than white. Timidly, I perched at the edge of the bath.
“Hi, I’m Jack”
“Nice to meet you Jack, my name is Rose, care to join me?” her voice was a sweet melody. Nervously I stepped farther into the birdbath careful not to drag my talons against the bottom, which most birds considered annoying. Annoying this divine aves was the very last thing I wanted to do.
“So, what city do you think is next?” I was so transfixed by her voice, that I almost didn’t hear what she had said.
“I honestly have no idea, I just came from Manhattan.” I told her.
“Oh you poor thing you” she said while giving me a bear hug. I could barely breath but I wasn’t about to complain.
“Was it terrifying?”
“Well to be honest, when the bomb fell, I was blown into a tree and almost paralyzed” The sad thing is that I wasn’t exaggerating that much, and I just wanted to impress her, all’s fair in love and war remember?
“My heavens, are you okay?”
“ Well physically I’m fine, but I’m worried about my family and friends you know? She sat there quietly for a few minutes, then looked me directly in the eyes.
“Do you want to go on a dinner date? You know to get your mind off of things?” I had to be dreaming, no way this would all happen if I was awake.
“Sure, where do you want to go?” I didn’t know Florida that well so I figured she should pick.
“Miami, meet me here at 8 o’clock ” Rose’s answers were sweet and simple. I nodded in agreement and she flew away. Nice going pal, I said to myself. I’ve got a date tonight with a dove! Wait, will I be charming enough? Will she find my jokes funny? I started to feel nauseous. I just had to tell myself that I would do great. Who’s the bird, I’m the bird. I will do this. When 8:00 rolled around I perched on the edge of the birdbath.
“Well hello there” I heard from behind me. I turned around and saw Rose. She looked marvelous.
“Hey, are you ready to go?”
“Yeah sugar” and with that we started to fly towards the shoreline.
Once we got to Miami, we had found a small family owned restaurant by the waterfront called Carmellas, and enjoyed a nicely garliced, forgotten breadstick.
“I’m stuffed” Rose declared. I couldn’t have said it better myself. We turned to stare at the water. Rose put her head on my shoulder as we watched the waves lap against the shore. It was getting dark and a little chilly so I wrapped my wing around her.
“This is beautiful isn’t it?”
“You bet” I looked up at the moon. It seemed to me that the moon looked prettier than I had ever seen it, tonight It was radiant.
“What are you thinking about?”
“How nice it is to be sitting here with you”
“That’s a wonderful answer.” I didn’t mean to yawn, it just slipped out. Dammit Jack, now she’s going to think you’re bored of her. Why did you have to yawn!?
“Are you tired?”
“I guess I’ve been flying a lot today, but I don’t want to put a damper in our evening.
“Nonsense, your health is much more important” she insisted. She took my wing off her shoulder and started walking. I guess we were going then. We flew back to the bird bath slowly, just letting the wind brush our faces.